Community Bank says new Visa cards in mail after hacking incident
By CHARLIE COON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 17, 2008
No Community Bank customers lost money when an Internet site they used to make purchases was attacked by a malicious computer program, prompting the overseas military bank to cancel 867 Visa banking cards last week.
The affected customers have been mailed a new bank card, according to Thomas LaRock, a spokesman with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which oversees the Defense Department’s contract with Bank of America and its Community Bank subsidiary.
“The bank has made, and continues to make, every effort to directly contact each of the 867 affected cardholders to inform them of the incident and notify them that a new card has been issued,” LaRock wrote in an e-mailed response to Stars and Stripes.
Most of the customers were Germany-based, according to DFAS.
According to LaRock, the compromise apparently occurred when a malicious computer program targeted an online merchant with rapid-fire fake purchases. Once the purchases were authorized by the merchant, the perpetrator used the authorizations to trace back the information to the affected Visa cards.
“Once the [perpetrator] receives a transaction approval, they know they now have a good number and begin to initiate fraudulent transactions against the bank account the card is attached to,” LaRock wrote.
Larock said that the perpetrator’s methods did not directly target Community Bank, and that fraudulent charges against customer accounts were canceled. No customer suffered any monetary loss as a result of the incident, he said.
Another Community Bank branch office employee, also located in Germany, said on Friday that the targeted merchant was Ranger Joe’s, a Georgia-based online retailer of military and police gear. Ranger Joe’s did not return a phone call seeking comment, and LaRock could not confirm that it was the source for the card cancellation.
“We are aware that [Ranger Joe’s] was the apparent victim of a card attack,” LaRock said. “We have no knowledge whether this is in any way connected with the fraud actions committed on the impacted Community Bank cardholders.”
Stars and Stripes learned of the problem last week when a soldier deployed to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, told the newspaper he was unable to make online purchases from there. The soldier said he called the Community Bank office in Schweinfurt, Germany, and was told that his card had been canceled.
Community Bank learned of the problem a day earlier, LaRock said. He added that the bank did not contact affected customers before canceling their cards because the cancellations were needed to prevent fraudulent activity toward the customers’ accounts.